Let's call this film what it really is...."Rocky 7". Writer/director Ryan Coogler continues the saga the only way possible, he reboots it. And in doing so he turns it 180 degrees with Rocky training the son of Apollo Creed and bringing everything back full circle.
The film is heavy on dialog and could have easily used one more fight sequence but as with the original, it's all about the emotional road leading up to the big fight. Michael B. Jordan stars as Adonis "Donnie" Johnson (Creed) who, with his father's DNA coursing through his veins, wants to create his own fight destiny out from the shadow of his father. Mr. Jordan trained very well for the film. He's in great shape and the fight sequences are very realistic and exciting. Of course he can't deny who he is and eventually takes his father's name.
Sylvester Stallone (how could it be anyone else) returns as Rocky Balboa and reluctantly agrees to train "Donnie". The film moves quickly from Los Angeles to the streets of Philadelphia where every Rocky cliche fills the screen. Mr. Stallone casts his own giant shadow over the film, given six previous incarnations. Here, however, he is the most honest and realistic in his portrayal of Rocky since the very first film. He is a man who has made peace with his past, accepts his present and isn't scared of his future.
Tessa Thompson co-stars as Donnie's love interest and Phylicia Rashad has a small role as his step-mother. It's the performances however, of Mr. Jordan and Mr. Stallone that carry the film and keep it interesting since the plot itself is a predictable, cliche filled retread. It ultimately ends evoking the original with a perfect set up for a new franchise.